It is important to realize how ephemeral Digital Media is. If you were to find a stack of 3.5″ floppies today, you would be hard pressed to find out what was on them. I certainly have no access to any device that could read them. You would most likely need to pay a archival specialist to retrieve whatever was on those floppies.
I was cleaning out a cabinet the other day and came across Jaz Disks. The 2 Gb size. Huge back in the day. Iomega was the company, Zip and Jaz disks the media. I have no idea how to read them now. So many people have relied on CD as an archival media. I’ve recommended them for years. Kept properly, high quality discs should be able to last 100 years. The problem is, would there be an Optical Disc player to read them?
Poof, it’s gone!
And then there’s the Data itself. Nothing more than elaborate arrays of Ones and Zeros deliver every digital experience we interact with. Every image on a screen, every phone call or financial transaction is reduced to a stream of bits and bytes. And all that data can exist on a device that fits in a pocket. And any of those devices can become non-functional at anytime. From water to whatever, any one device can be lost or become non-functional.
Copy, copy, copies.
The best protection against data loss is a good back up strategy. The ideal Data Preservation plan will have at least three legs. The original Data, A local Back Up of that Data, and a remote copy of the same Data, kept offsite. A typical plan would rotate the local Back Up and the Remote Back Up devices every 30 days or so. Now multiple “Cloud” offerings provide the protection of off site storage, that can be as current as the local Back Up.